By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Powerful performances can't save tragic, mature drama.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Deals with intense feelings of grief and guilt and talks briefly about ways to deal with them (both positive and not so positive). But it doesn't dig very deeply or get to any kind of profound level. Viewers may have to pick up the slack with their own discussions.
Positive Role Models
No strong/clear positive role models here. There are only victims, trying -- or not trying -- to deal with their feelings, and both choose unhealthy methods of doing so.
Violence & Scariness
A gruesome stabbing, with gushing blood and a pool of blood on the floor. Dead bodies. Airplane crash site; actual crash isn't shown, but much discussion. A character buys a gun from a gun shop. A teenage boy brandishes a gun. Knives are shown.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple has sex in bed; no graphic nudity. Naked male bottom seen in the shower. Brief innuendo. A married couple cuddles and kisses.
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A use of "f--king." Also "goddamn" and "shut up."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character takes prescription pills to help deal with his misery. He only goes to therapy to get more pills. He tries overdosing on them but vomits. Two men drink beer. A man walks out of a liquor store with a paper bag (nothing else shown).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Aftermath is a drama based on a true story about a horrible plane crash. It explores the effects the crash has on both a man who loses his family and on the air traffic controller who may have been responsible. Violence isn't constant but is brutal/intense; there's a stabbing, spurting blood, and a pool of blood, as well as images of the plane crash site and dead bodies. Guns and knives are also shown. Language includes a single use of "f--king," plus "goddamn." A married couple has sex, kisses, and cuddles, but there's no graphic nudity; star Arnold Schwarzenegger's naked bottom is shown in the shower. A character takes prescription pills to deal with depression and appears to be dependent on them; he attempts an overdose but throws up. There's also some drinking. While the acting is strong, overall the film feels more manipulative than sympathetic.
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What's the Story?
In AFTERMATH, construction manager Roman (Arnold Schwarzenegger) eagerly prepares to pick up his wife and pregnant daughter from the airport. But he arrives to find, to his absolute horror, that they've died in a plane crash. Meanwhile, air traffic controller Jake (Scoot McNairy) was on the job, dealing with downed phone lines and missing the opportunity to save not one but two flights. In the days following, Roman mourns his family, and Jake experiences intense guilt and pain over the accident. A year later, Roman attends a memorial for the crash victims, and Jake has moved to another state and taken a new identity. With help from a reporter, Roman finds Jake's address and decides to see him. All he wants is an apology, but with pain this deep, anything can happen.
Is It Any Good?
Schwarzenegger and McNairy give powerful performances in this dire, downbeat drama, but the filmmaking frequently undermines them, choosing shortcuts over deeper, more soulful exploration. Inspired by a true story, Aftermath starts awkwardly with an upbeat beginning that basically guarantees -- and cheapens -- the tragedy to come. The subsequent setup for Jake is equally awkward; the first 20 minutes, taken together, show that director Elliott Lester has little feel for human behavior.
The movie feels more manipulative than it does sympathetic, topped off with an almost constant droning, moaning music score and very strange touches like a bizarre, busy wardrobe for Schwarzenegger. (In his grief, he wears a tacky sweater with what looks like geese on it.) Scene after scene consists of the actors trying to convey their inner anguish, with the director unable to do anything but remain on the surface. Admittedly, it's difficult for most of us to comprehend a tragedy this huge, but Aftermath doesn't seem to be able to manage it, either, so what's it's point?
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Aftermath's violence. What's shown and not shown? Do you consider any of it gratuitous? What's the impact of violent media on kids?
Are there "right" and "wrong" ways that the characters experience grief, sorrow, and guilt? If so, what puts them in those categories?
What's Jake's relationship with his prescription drugs? Are there consequences to his actions? Why is that important?
When Roman tells the other man that he'll eventually find a reason to get out of bed, what does he mean?
- In theaters: April 7, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: June 6, 2017
- Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maggie Grace, Scoot McNairy
- Director: Elliott Lester
- Studio: Lionsgate Premiere
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: a scene of violence
- Last updated: April 1, 2023
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